For many of us, this time of year means Christmas lights, family gatherings and a winter wonderland. For one beer brand, it’s all about palm trees, solitude and a Mexican beach — a fitting message in an age of social distancing.
While brands like Heineken and Miller Lite directly addressed the pandemic in their holiday ads this year, Corona is saying, why mess with success? This marks the 30th anniversary of the brand’s classic “O Tannenpalm” spot, one of the simplest yet most enduring commercials ever. The ad — consisting of a single shot of a beachfront cabana and a palm tree aglow in faerie lights as a disembodied voice softly whistles the Christmas tune “O Tannenbaum” — was rolled out again by parent Constellation Brands on Black Friday and will run through the holiday season.
Like mall Santas, jam cake and that Mariah Carey song, the Corona ad has become a beloved tradition — running unaltered every year since its debut in 1990. This year, it takes on deeper meaning amid quarantines, working from home and aborted holiday gatherings.
“Every year, it helps reground people in the holiday spirit — which is one thing that doesn’t have to change in 2020,” explains Ann Legan, VP of marketing for Corona. “In times of uncertainty, people gravitate towards brands they know and trust.”
Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, agreed that the ad has particular resonance right now. “It is a quiet scene — it’s wistful and hopeful all at the same time,” he said. “It suggests that the holidays can be festive even if it doesn’t include big gatherings.”
That quietness is also one of the reasons the ad has had legs, Calkins suggested. “It breaks through the holiday clutter,” he said. Consumers’ continued fondness for the spot is a testament to the “power and consistency” of the Corona brand, he added.
The commercial has become so iconic that an all-new holiday ad from Corona sibling brand Corona Hard Seltzer pays homage to it — same palm tree in lights, same whistling, different beverage. The spot, called “Glass,” was created by Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago. “With Corona Hard Seltzer celebrating its first holiday season, we wanted to include it in a refreshing take that offers a nod to our holiday classic,” Legan says.